On the heels of a busy 2016, one would understand if Moonsville Collective needed some time off. They released their latest full length, Heavy Howl, in October and zigzagged the country on tour in support of that record. The band’s hard work paid off, culminating in an appearance at the Americana Music Awards showcase in Nashville.
Even with the heavy lifting of writing, releasing and touring behind an album, the band wasn’t ready to close the book on this creative spurt quite yet.
Known for their bluegrass sound, the band decided to mix things up when they went back to record. Armed with 15-20 additional songs, Moonsville Collective headed into a Long Beach studio —conveniently located with two members living in Long Beach and the other in Whittier — and started pounding out tunes at a prolific pace.
Before they got busy with their new songs, the group went through some lineup changes, including the removal of their fiddle player. This allowed them to embrace a tighter, more rocking sound that was absent from string-driven tunes from before. That’s not to say that they aren’t retaining portions of the sound that garnered them praise, and an OC Music Award for Best Country/Americana Band on top of taking home this publication’s honors for Best Live Band in 2012, but they’re ready to evolve and become a better band.
“We were known as the Orange County bluegrass, string band,” bassist Seth Richardson explains. “We’re getting into an Americana — even a rock — sound for these new EPs.”
Having once been worried about trying to recreate the sounds of Dustbowl America, these new songs provided the newly minted quintet want to showcase a different element Richardson says is a step forward for them. Having left Rock Ridge Music and a management company, the band decided to use this newfound freedom to hone a tighter sound. This willingness to experiment and deviate away a comfortable formula allowed Moonsville to record at a prolific rate and focus their energy on writing and recording. The band worked with Peter Guinta on the album, which was the first time the band didn’t produce it themselves.
“We had the attitude of let’s just go for it,” Richardson says. “We used to record [in the studio] so we could play live what we made on the recording. On the EP, we’re trying to make the best sounding recording we can layered up with organ or drums or baritone electric guitar. There’s not as much fiddle. We’re digging deeper into drums and bass, instead of that mandolin-driven sound.”
They weren’t ready to stop with the release of one EP. Instead, Richardson says the band is embarking on the ambitious plan to put out new material every quarter. The band already has a completed second EP in the hopper, with that batch of five song slated for release in three months.
“Putting out tons of singles seems to be popular now,” the bassist says. “The Americana/folk world isn’t really going there yet. But we’re going to try this out. We know people that put out a song per month and this is going to challenge us to write new material.”
As they continue to figure out and grow their sound, Moonsville Collective continues to produce something that’s unconventional to their genre. Usually, bands within bluegrass and folk add parts instead of subtracting them. Involving a rotating cast of friends and collaborators has kept things fun and embrace the challenges of working with people whose different styles can
“We were proud of eight or 10 of the songs we came up with, and instead of putting out an album of B-sides, we’re putting them out this way,” Richardson says. “We want everything to be connected, but at the same time, we want every EP to have its own sound and identity.”
Moonsville Collective performs with Pawn Shop Kings and Victoria Bailey at The Wayfarer, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (714) 764-0039, www.wayfarercm.com. Friday, Jan. 13, 8 p.m. $10-$12. 21+. To pre-order the new EP, click here.